I recently read this piece on NPR’s Monkey See blog,“Does It Help to Get Angry at Someone with Addiction?” by Laurel Dalrymple, and I thought it was worth sharing here on Word Savant.
It’s in response to a piece on the Washington Post’s Style Blog by a writer who harbors some anger towards Phillip Seymour Hoffman (the artist vs the man) for robbing his audience of his unique talent. Dalrympe reflects on her personal experience as the child of alcoholics and wonders if it does any good.
Her piece is moving and eloquent. But it also illustrates that the people we look up to are still human. Simply by virtue of being alive they experience the same pain, heartache, failure, disappointment, pressure, rejection, and self-doubt as the rest of us. Sure, they do us a service when they use their talents for the betterment of our lives. But they pay the same suffering tax that the rest of us pay.
All those twisted, complex, bewildered, curious, tender, anguished characters we see in television and film comes from an understanding of that nature. The great artists can take all those struggles and transform them into their work. They hold up a mirror and show us who we are, and if done well, then we know we’re not alone. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was surely one of them.
For most of us our addictions don’t come anywhere close to the destruction of a heroin addiction, but we are still addicted to something that masks the pain of paying that tax. And maybe by understanding that, we can find the empathy and love that Dalrymple calls for in her piece.
With that I’ll leave you with this lovely sentiment from Hoffman on his craft. Even though he’s talking about acting, it serves as a reminder to all creatives to be grateful for every opportunity to practice their craft and to do it as well as they can.